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If barn doesn't sell...what to do.

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  • #21
    Sounds like you may be best selling out and downsizing, either to a small place where you can have your personal horses and/or board them.

    There is a time you have to quit and maybe now is that time for you to move on with the rest of your life?

    If the current real estate people are not getting your place sold, try another next, lower the price, whatever it takes, there is always a way to sell.

    Everything else seems to be just postponing the inevitable and making the transition stressful by leasing or keeping at this.

    That is one more way to handle this.


    • #22
      Frankly, if you would definitely prefer to sell, then I think you need to get give notice to your boarders that they have 30 (or maybe a little more) days to find a new home. Potential buyers either want the barn for themselves or want to start their own boarding set up, in which case they would likely prefer to vet out potential boarders that would fit their program. Either way, having the barn empty save for your own horses would make it far more desirable so potential buyers won't be left dealing with boarders or trainers under a lease. In other words your place needs to look like it is ready to be occupied by a new owner. That said do you have arrangements for a place to potentially board your own horses should it sell?
      Last edited by js; Jun. 11, 2014, 08:42 PM.
      "My treasures do not chink or gleam, they glitter in the sun and neigh at night."


      • #23
        If it is listed for sale that makes it difficult to do anything about leasing etc. Either the lease will end when it is sold or you are saddling the new owner with a lease (might be good for some but it is limiting)

        I think I would tell the boarders you are cutting back (how many are there?) You could offer to keep a couple if they do some barn work if they want to stay. Or you could just keep your horses. The vacation thing would still be difficult but less so with fewer horses and only until the place sells.


        • #24
          I don't know if this is a usual practice, but when I lived in Colorado I bought a townhouse, and I liked it, but I needed a yard for the dog, and to be closer to work. So I put it on the market, and it didn't sell for nine months. There were new townhouses in the same complex that sold faster, and for more money. It turned out that the builder was giving 1/2% extra to buyer's brokers for getting their client to buy the new builds. My realtor told me, and said he had just found out about it, and that it might have made a difference. Maybe bumping the percentage of commission, or a cash bonus to the buyer's broker would help. But only if that's legal.
          You can't fix stupid-Ron White


          • #25
            Also, only put "quick possession possible" if you mean it. When I was house shopping I needed a place to move into, and I looked at places described as "move in ready" and "quick possession" that had projects listed as house features, and they hadn't even started them, and they weren't moving for months. One said they would close quickly, but wanted to rent the house back until the end of school. Personally, I love the quick possession places, because I'm not shopping for a house to move into months from now. Especially if the new owner has a business relocating, and they want to get a business up and running. Or if they just want to move and settle in before school starts.
            You can't fix stupid-Ron White


            • Original Poster

              Quick possession might be difficult as we don't have a place to move to: planning to build...although DH would consider buying a house in the city that we could live in while we build and then rent out after if we needed to.

              I guess that is a good question for our new agent: which is better, quick possession or existing income.

              I haven't looked too much into where I will board, as that will depend a lot on where we decide to live, but I do have some options in mind. Its harder to find places for my clients.
              Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


              • #27
                Before you switch agents, I would start house hunting at least online, to see the possibilities. Since you intend to build, I would also look at house plans you like, and start thinking about the features you want. One big recommendation is don't get dark counter tops. A friend who put in endless slabs of granite used Uba Tuba, which is called green but looks more dark charcoal gray, or black. She really regrets getting that color, because it sucks the life out of the kitchen, and causes problems for her working in the kitchen. Dark colors on floors and counters show the dirt more, and water splashes. My friend wishes she had paid a few hundred more, and bought the St. Cecilia or Santa Rita (gold or tan background with various colors in it), so the kitchen and other counters were lighter and easier on the eyes.
                You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                • #28
                  You need to be actively looking for your own place as you try to sell yours. We just spent a year of heated discussion, crunching the numbers and looking at the logistics of moving and when it was all said and done we opted to stay put. The finances while doable didn't gain us anything, in fact we would downgrading quite a bit (not just for us but for the horses also), once we looked at what was available existing in the areas we were interested in going in the price range we thought we would get for our place. While we would gain a smaller property (easier to maintain), the trade off on other things was not appealing enough to offset what we would be losing.

                  If you are looking to build then that means you would be months from having a place to move in to if you sold your place. Most buyers (I'm guessing) are going to want to move in within 30 days, so you need a plan on where you can go.

                  The whole sell, buy, move thing forced us to really look long and hard at the entire process of trying to get our place sold, trying to have a suitable place picked out that we could purchase, packing up an entire farm, horses, cats, dogs, equipment and a large house full of stuff and moving it. When we looked at all the costs involved and really looked at what we would gain and/or lose and if we would truly be any better off, we decided it really wasn't worth it. If your place is paid for or is affordable for you, perhaps you should consider staying and making changes to make it easier to care for, making the house easier to move around in (i.e. a chair lift for the stairs, or concentrating most of your living areas downstairs or even adding on a bedroom etc. on the main floor), hiring help occasionally to take care of the yard work. Closing down the boarding operation and enjoy your barn for yourself. If you still like the idea of boarders, then lease out to a trainer and let them run that part of the business.

                  From what you have posted, it sounds like you have had your place on the market but you aren't truly ready to move. Sit down, crunch the numbers of building everything from scratch and see how long it will take and how much it will cost. Look at real estate in the areas you are wanting to live and see what is available, land or already existing homes/barns. If you are truly going to sell you need to be ready to move.
                  "My treasures do not chink or gleam, they glitter in the sun and neigh at night."


                  • Original Poster

                    We have looked at some of the land available, and although pricey, it seems like we could find something we like and build a house, while still being ahead.

                    Impossible to find a house without stairs it seems as they pretty much all have laundry in the basement.

                    DH is into construction so he has all sorts of ideas. Buying a temporary (future rental house) buys us time as well. Not looking for enough land to keep a horse...would rather board out. I like having people to ride and show with. I am actually pretty ready to move... I packed up and gave away a lot of stuff last fall when we first listed. DH on the other hand has so much stuff...he is a bit of a pack rat. Still, he figures the new owners might want much of his tools and stuff.

                    Currently learning towards doing one more winter with the barn as a business but stopping in the spring if it doesn't sell and going private...that way next year I can focus on getting my horse(s) out and about where I want to go and not worry about client shows.

                    But I may feel differently tomorrow.

                    Things that make me want to stay "open" is that these people are my friends, I really LIKE teaching (would love to teach at a beginner barn if I could find one with a good reputation), and it would help finance redoing the indoor footing.

                    Things that make me want to go private is how TIRED I am, how I can't do some of the things I want to with my horse as it conflicts with shows my clients want to go to, and I do miss the "real" world a bit...

                    I wish it would just sell and take the decision from me.
                    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by CHT View Post
                      We have looked at some of the land available, and although pricey, it seems like we could find something we like and build a house, while still being ahead.

                      Impossible to find a house without stairs it seems as they pretty much all have laundry in the basement.
                      DH's aunt has a ranch house with the laundry in the basement. She has 3 small bedrooms. We were easily able to convert one bedroom into a laudry room. We were able to run everything through an interior wall and back into the basement. We set it up so that it would only take a few hours over a few days to convert back to a bedroom. The drywall repair would take the longest due to drying times. We were able to do it so nothing came up through the floor so no damage to the hardwood.
                      This has allowed her to stay in her home for a few years extra. She really needs to downsize due to property size and probably should be in a place that has assisted living as an option. She uses a walker.

                      If you can find a 3 or 4 bedroom ranch you might be able to convert a bedroom to a laundry room.
                      There are also combo washer dryers that are 1 unit- not a stacked apartment unit. They wash the clothes and then dry them all in the same unit. I think they only do small/medium loads and are kinda expensive. You might be able to convert a closet, pantry or carve out a small part of the kitchen.
                      Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by CHT View Post
                        Things that make me want to stay "open" is that these people are my friends, I really LIKE teaching (would love to teach at a beginner barn if I could find one with a good reputation), and it would help finance redoing the indoor footing.

                        Things that make me want to go private is how TIRED I am, how I can't do some of the things I want to with my horse as it conflicts with shows my clients want to go to, and I do miss the "real" world a bit...

                        I wish it would just sell and take the decision from me.

                        Close the boarding business down. Don't feel guilty, your time and health are just as important. Give yourself a rest and start enjoying your own horses for a change. You might realize once this is done that you have a perfect property. Keep one beginner lesson horse and just offer private beginner lessons to individuals, this will keep your time spent on other's to a minimum and still allow you time for your own horses.

                        It sounds like you have the farm most of us dream of! All farms are work, regardless of size. Selling, buying, and building are a major stress that can be mentally and physically exhausting and no guarantee you will be any happier once done.

                        Shut down the boarding business, give yourself 6 months and see how you feel about things. Keep the property listed, keep looking for a better dream place.
                        "My treasures do not chink or gleam, they glitter in the sun and neigh at night."


                        • #32
                          Do you have enough land now to build your "dream home" and then rent out your facility? That way you have your smaller house and still live on the farm.
                          Field of Dreams Miniature Horses

                          JEM Canadian Sunrise HOF: 2007 Res Nat'l Grand Champion WCPD
                          Redrock Lots O Spots HOF: 2014 National Grand Champion WCPD


                          • Original Poster

                            We aren't able to build a second permanent second residence on our land, plus it would require going into debt to finance the new home...we would rather stay away from having to borrow.

                            I think you guys are right about closing the business. It's just so hard (emotionally), but I have been so weak lately...just carrying the 25kg salt blocks to the pens was close to impossible today.

                            Taking students to a show this Sunday...going to pay attention to the other coaches and see if I can start to find good suggestions as to where clients can go. Very sad to think about when I am sitting here with my feet up, but when I am actually working on the farm stuff it is hard to think about keeping up the work load.
                            Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                            • #34
                              You need to be kinder to yourself. I know you don't want to disappoint clients, or close the business, but this workload is too hard on you physically, and a drain on you emotionally. If I were you I would give the clients a generous notice, with suggestions for other trainers, and other boarding, and then they can switch before winter comes, if there is a waiting list at another barn. I know it's only the beginning of summer, but if there are waiting lists , then they may need to wait to move. That way you won't have to face another winter with all of the clients and their horses. Not disappointing the students and boarders is not worth exhausting yourself.
                              You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                              • #35
                                I know it's probably not where you are going - but the comments about chores not being worthwhile, etc., is an assumption I think you may be making without talking to people. I am an adult professional who makes good money for my area - not fabulous, but better than a lot - and I still bring in horses at the boarding barn 3 days a week. It takes me about 30-45 minutes in the summer, maybe 1-1.5 hours in the winter when we have to water, and I am paid a whopping $10 off my board. But I figure I'm there anyway, or it encourages me to be there, and it's not hard. All of the barn chore people right now are adults with the exception of one high school senior who also brings in. Our barn owner does not do chores at all on the weekends - someone else does morning feed and turnout, stalls and brings in. She has someone bring in every night, and a couple days of the week she has someone do stalls. That means she is responsible for morning turnout and feeding 5 days a week and cleaning stalls 3 days a week ... which leaves her time for the million other things a barn owner has to do like buy bedding and feed, do the books, deal with boarders, marketing, etc. Or, you know, sleep.

                                Just because your boarders are adults with "real" jobs doesn't mean they wouldn't be interested in helping out with chores to reduce board a bit.
                                If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
                                ~ Maya Angelou


                                • #36
                                  Of all your options, closing the boarding operation is the least "final" and least complicated in terms of uprooting your life. And it's easily reversed.
                                  Try it and see how it goes. If you hate it, and the place just isn't selling, you can advertise for a few boarders again. Or, advertise your facility as open for trailering in -- there may be lots of folks around without good riding facilities, who'd jump at the chance to ride at a non-crowded, nice facility once or twice week. Or a trainer just starting out who doesn't have the clientele to fill a barn, so she has clients meet her there (but not board).

                                  I really think you'll be glad if you shut down before winter. Given that this wouldn't be a big hit to income, why take on the grueling work for very little benefit. Maybe tie the date it to your current hay inventory/obligation to your hay seller (such as if you reserved xxx bales this season but haven't bought them yet).

                                  The only thing that gets us through these tough winters is passion, the love of keeping horses and remembering the great spring/summer/fall days to come. It doesn't sound like just a passing gloomy moment. If it were in the midst of February and you were feeling this way, you might chalk it up to winter blahs and I'd say give it more time. But here you are in the best weather of the year, and the passion doesn't seem to be there. That would tell me that it's time to let someone else do the work and you just enjoy your horses.


                                  • #37
                                    Unless the boarding business conveys with the sale of the property, then I would close it. If I were in the market for a ranch/farm (and I never will be), then I wouldn't want to make an offer on a property with a business I wasn't interested in operating. Someone would have to love a property, and be totally committed to buying it to be willing to wait for someone to close out a business, and the closing process might leave the boarders and students scrambling to find somewhere else, and with very little notice.
                                    You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                                    • #38
                                      As someone who is looking for places to offer agility classes, as well as someone who has taken lots... Frequently in horse barns.

                                      They would have scheduled hours, resident dogs would have to be away for those hours. So in the house, in a stall etc. Cats usually stay out of the way, but if you have very dumb cats who will try to visit strange dogs, then they too need to go somewhere else for class time. (I personally own JRTs that I worry will kill a cat if it were to jump in the ring with us)

                                      However dog agility (or really any dog sport) is very low impact on your facility. If you still want to keep horses there you still could if you give the agility people a spot to put their equipment when a class is not on. They don't use your paddocks, stalls etc. They are likely less worried about the facility being for sale as its not like they have to up and move horses to a new place.

                                      Could be a good solution.


                                      • #39
                                        I would be careful about renting or some of the alternative uses suggested if you want to be able to sell the farm. Tenants / boarders etc may make it much harder to maintain the property in a "show ready" state.

                                        Regarding option 2,have you considered putting a camper somewhere on the property instead of building a tenant house? They can be purchased used for about 8k and resold when you move. I definitely would not spend a lot to build another building when you are trying to sell.

                                        Good luck with the new realtor. I just changed realtors for my farm and can empathize with your challenge!
                                        Roseknoll Sporthorses


                                        • Original Poster

                                          It seems we can't relist with another agent until 6 months after our expiry date with the old one? Which puts us into the dead of winter when I can't imagine a barn selling...might list it ourselves with the knowledge we would have to pay the old agent a commission if we sold it in the 6 month window. Or we can spend the 6 months do more renos to our house which may also make it easier to sell.

                                          There is someone who claims to be interested...every couple weeks they send us some more questions, but not sure if they are bored tire kickers, or actually interested. You would think they would move quicker if they actually were interested, but maybe they feel the pressure is off with the listing expired.

                                          Yankee Lawyer, not sure how easy it is to winterize a camper, but might be a good option for next spring/summer.

                                          Now considering raising rates so I can pay for some part time help, and trying to find a coach who wants to take over teaching 2 days per week and do the majority of the hunter/jumper show coaching. Then I could look for a part time job (bookkeeping or something) and get some additional revenue and get back in the general work force. We'd have to replace the indoor arena footing if we were to do this though, so would have to invest some money which is a major factor. (the footing is fine for flat work, but needs a better base for jumping).

                                          The alternative (if I can't find someone to do the show coaching/training) would be to close the business and just keep my personal horses. I am beginning to see the merit of this.
                                          Freeing worms from cans everywhere!